What Does It Mean To Be a Mother

Yesterday I realized that I was doubly blessed. I could celebrate both having a mother and being a mother.

We tend to focus on our own mothers on Mother’s Day. How did they raise us, inspire us, live through our teen years? But amidst this is the sacred role we play as mothers.

When our children have finished with school, but still live with us, we often have trouble adjusting to the new half-parenting role. I call this the adult-child phase. They still need their moms when hungry, need laundry cleaned, or a little extra money. But in other matters they prefer to test their own wobbly wings.

I suppose it is a bit like student driving – or apprenticing to life situations. And maybe that is the best way, just sticking your toe in the water before jumping in.

And I think it speaks volume for our relationship that he enjoys being at home. Perhaps I have done something right.

The best sign of a well adjusted adult-child is the way other people talk about him. I have heard so many positive things about my child and usually in ways that amaze me a little. Just when I begin to wonder if anything we tried to instill in him got through, he rises to an occasion and flourishes like one of my arbor roses.

It is an honor to be given the gift of motherhood. Those of us who get to be moms must be favored among the heavens. Yet I know as I say this that many mothers fail at the job.

There are so many for whom Mother’s Day will be a painful reminder of the abandonment or horror they faced at the hands – or lack thereof – of their mothers. What do they do, how do they feel, when all of their surroundings scream how wonderful mothers are and how they should be cherished. I think it is fair to say that some mothers are toxic and can’t be in the lives of their children. Others have crossed lines so many times that being tolerated is the best that can be summoned. You can love the person and still hate the actions they are capable of.

And for some, deceased mothers leave gaping wounds that all of the attention to cards, flowers, chocolates, jewelry and sentimental commercials makes it nearly unbearable. Where do they go on Mother’s Day?

I heard some say they were buying flowers for their graves. Others were volunteering at organizations their mothers supported. Those of us who write may choose to voice our feelings with words.

But I challenge you to think of your mother in a different light. If you like who you are right now, then the gifts that you needed to get you to this place were provided to you through your childhood. If you felt abandoned as a child, perhaps you learned self-reliance and can now roam the world with confidence. If you weren’t the favorite, maybe you learned to succeed without external praise. See the challenge you were given and what it taught you that has enriched your life.

There are beautiful roses in my arbor and they bear despite my care. They bloom on thorny branches and with weeds intertwined. They have put down roots and succeed whether or not I feed and care for them. The biggest blooms occur when I give them the right conditions, but the heartiest bloom when I don’t. Maybe that is why they are always beautiful on Mother’s Day. They thrive in whatever climate they face. And so do we, and so will our children. So when I feel that I haven’t been the best mother, I try to find the lesson that we were all taught by it. So will you.

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